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I was delightfully surprised last night to find The Beta Test available to rent. I knew that it was being released in select theaters today, but had no idea that it was going to be a Same Day VOD. The film is a pitch black comedy satire of Hollywood & social media, while doing double duty as a thriller. Jim Cummings has successfully created another wholly original film, but this time with PJ McCabe who co-wrote & co-directed. 
 

The overall exaggerated tone felt like homages to Altman’s The Player and the comedic scenes of Lynch’s Mulholland Dr. (The Cowboy scene & the production meetings with Justin Theroux, to name a few.). Cummings has a lot say here and it’s done in a surrealist manner that might put off some. He definitely knows how to play someone on the verge of a breakdown and he tops his two prior performances in Thunder Road & The Wolf Of Snow Hollow. 

(available to rent wherever you rent movies or in select theaters in NY & LA.)

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I decided that it was time to venture out to one of my local theaters to spend Saturday afternoon with Wes Anderson. The French Dispatch was a terrifically fun time, but also a celebration of journalism and the written word. This was one of his best films, in terms of cinematography and art direction. I even think some of his sets were miniature. The film’s structure was an obituary, a travelogue & 3 short stories. It was tough to pick a favorite segment, but I loved seeing Adrien Brody spar with Benicio Del Toro in one of the stories. I won’t spoil the plot of that one. Frances McDormand was also another standout, as was Jeffrey Wright and Tilda Swinton.
 

I anxiously await the physical release (Dec. 28th) to watch this film with subtitles on because it felt like his most verbose film. I never felt lost at all, but it was a lot to digest in one sitting. 
(Now playing in select theaters.)

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On 11/9/2021 at 6:40 PM, u2roolz said:

The French Dispatch was a terrifically fun time, but also a celebration of journalism and the written word. 

 

I loved it, too, and it was one of two movies that I saw recently that seem to have been saddled with misguided critical baggage. It’s true that The French Dispatch lacks the emotional hooks of Anderson’s earliest works. But it has been replaced by stagecraft of such overwhelming personal invention that it carries viewers forward on an equally gratifying wave. Like you, I'm eager to see it a second time. (If The French Dispatch were Anderson’s debut, the film would almost surely be welcomed as a majestic revelation by a new wunderkind.) That the movie continues Anderson’s familiar, chosen mode of artifice is among the least interesting facts about it; after all, many of the most celebrated film artists were obsessives who kept distilling the same ideas over and over. But this fact has weirdly dominated discussions about the film. One senses that because Anderson is more “entertaining” or “twee” than, say, Godard or Bergman or Fellini there is a presumption that he should somehow be “advancing.” To which the natural question is, Why, exactly?

 

If the critical establishment has coalesced around the dead-end notion that Anderson is spinning his wheels, it seems to have also decided that the only way to receive Edgar Wright's Last Night in Soho, for good or bad, is as a MeToo manifesto. Well, sure, the material invites that reading. But such a conventional approach also feels oddly limiting, given how the movie has thematic concerns and cinematic pleasures that are far more timeless and universal. There are also twists and turns that transcend contemporary trappings and stymie knee-jerk social analysis. I don’t want to make the case that this stylish, halfway clever movie is a work of genius, but I do suspect the zeitgeist-y darts being thrown at Soho today will not date well over the next 20 years.

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On 11/5/2021 at 1:08 PM, u2roolz said:

I was delightfully surprised last night to find The Beta Test available to rent.

 

I'm eager to see this! Cummings is such an intriguing talent. (I was surprised to see him turn up in Halloween Kills, basically doing a riff on his character from The Wolf of Snow Hollow.)

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12 hours ago, Beltmann said:

 

It’s true that The French Dispatch lacks the emotional hooks of Anderson’s earliest works. But it has been replaced by stagecraft of such overwhelming personal invention that it carries viewers forward on an equally gratifying wave.

I hope this is true for me. When I look back to Royal Tenenbaums (by far, my favorite of his works), it's the emotional hooks of this dysfunctional family and a father desperate for making amends, if only for his own survival, that truly spoke to me. One of my favorite lines in any movie is, "Immediately after making this statement, Royal realized that it was true."

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I decided to try to see Ghostbusters: Afterlife yesterday, before all of the kids go on a holiday break this coming week. I was the only person in the auditorium. I thought that it was a beautiful film that hit all the right spots & emotions. It’s truly a love letter to the fans and it ends in an exciting place that made me fill with excitement. 
 

I think the timing of this film is rather perfect for the generation that grew up with it. It’s a perfect film to take your kids to and let them fall in love with another franchise. The young cast was all around terrific, especially Mckenna Grace. Jason Reitman did a fantastic job with the script & tone of the film. I really want to experience it all again. 
 

My only gripe is that it didn’t get a summer release because it is set during the summertime and it feels like a classic 80s summer film. 
(Now playing only in theaters.)

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